Admission was $11 each, and as much as I like to support efforts like this one, I'll be honest and say it was not worth the money. No guide is offered and all you do is wander around the boat after watching a five minute video. It really is a shame, because even someone reading from a script as they led you around would have done much to make it worth it. I'm sure there are a few tales to tell, not to mention just having someone talk about the daily duties and routines of running such a large vessel would have given some connection to the tour whose purpose is supposed to be "preserving the legacy".
The view was nice from the deck and the weather was beautiful.
Now that we're home I did some research and found a nice article online about the Great Lakes icebreakers and their importance to modern industry which you can read here. I also took the liberty of borrowing this nice picture they had from the deck of The Mackinaw of another icebreaker in action:
From The Mackinaw we moved down the road to Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse. We did not go inside for a tour, just walked around the grounds and enjoyed yet another view of the infamous bridge. The light was established in 1892 and was operated until 1958. The beacon could be seen for 16 miles.
Mackinaw City also is home to another historic lighthouse at McGulpin Point. It was built in 1856 and was eventually replaced by the above light because it couldn't be seen from all directions. Shipping really picked up on the Great Lakes after the building of the Erie Canal in 1825, opening up trade to Chicago. The light was operational until 1906, but now the lighthouse itself cannot be seen from shore due to overgrowth of trees. I did go inside this one but there wasn't much to see, the lens in the tower is plastic. Better no lens than a plastic one in a lighthouse that wasn't operational after 1906, right?
Behind the lighthouse is a trail down the beach. It's a .3 mile loop back up to the parking lot. The walk was pretty, with yet another glimpse of the bridge, but nothing of real note to be seen.
Mackinaw City is basically a stop for people to board the ferry to Mackinac Island. Even the tiny IGA grocery store and the liquor store in town close up for the winter. It was good to check this area of Michigan off our list, but one stop is all you need, unlike going to the Smokies. Who's sick of me mentioning our trip to the Smokies in October? I'm sure it won't be the last time!